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Father of slain teenage shepherds resumes protest in Daghestan

17 July 2019
Murtazali Gasanguseynov. (Saida Vagabova / OC Media)

The father of two teenage shepherds shot dead in the Russian Republic of Daghestan has resumed protesting in front of the republic’s government offices.

Murtazali Gasanguseynov, whose sons were shot dead in the Shamil District of Daghestan in August 2016, resumed his single-person picket on Monday in the central square of the Daghestani capital Makhachkala. 

Gasanguseynov was demanding that the authorities authorise a larger protest and that they bring to justice his son’s killers.

Seventeen-year-old Nabi Gasanguseynov and his 19-year-old brother Gasanguseyn were shot dead on the night of 23 August 2016 near their home village of Goor-Khindakh.

The authorities first declared that the shepherds were militants and claimed that they had been killed by ‘return fire’ during a counter-terrorist operation around the village. 

They claimed the Gasanguseynov brothers were the main suspects in the murder of judge Ubayduly Magomedov earlier in August.

In November 2017, the criminal case against the Gasanguseynov brothers was dropped and two days later an investigation into their killing was initiated.

[Read more on OC Media: Parents protest teen shepherds’ murders in Daghestan]

After Gasanguseynov’s parents held a series of pickets in front of Daghestan’s government building last September, the case was transferred to the Central Office of the Investigative Committee of Russia.

Murtazali Gasangusyenov told OC Media that the investigation had so far not yielded any results. He said that no criminal case against former Shamil District police chief Ibragim Aliyev had not been initiated and there was no suspect in the case.

In April 2018, the Prosecutor’s Office ordered an investigation into claims made by the police surrounding the Gasanguseynov brothers’ deaths. 

The investigation concluded that Aliyev forged a report indicating that there was a counterterrorist operation around Goor-Khindakh on the night they were killed.

The issue is being investigated separately to the Gasanguseynov brothers’ deaths and no charges have yet been brought.

Dzhambulat Gasanov, a lawyer representing Gasanguseynov’s parents, told OC Media that the single-person pickets were resumed because the Makhachkala administration refused to approve larger protests on 15 occasions.

He said that the mayor’s office had found a reason to refuse their application every time. He added that a fair will be held for almost the entire of July in the 50th Anniversary of October Park, where rallies of thousands of people are usually authorised to take place.

Murtazali Gasanguseynov told OC Media that he intended to keep picketing until the Mayor of Makhachkala, Salman Dadaev, tells him when and where he will be allowed to hold a rally. 

Gasanguseynov said he wanted to hold an authorised rally in order to draw attention to how ineffective the investigation into his sons’ killing was.

Chernovik journalists join the protest

On 16 July journalists from daghestani daily Chernovik joined Gasanguseynov’s protest. 

Gasanguseynov told OC Media that law enforcement agencies had already pressured Russian rights group Memorial into dropping his sons’ case, and that ‘now they started harassing Chernovik and detained their journalist Abdulmumin Gadzhiyev’.

Shamil Magomedov, a lawyer from Memorial in Daghestan, confirmed to OC Media in September 2018 that the group stopped working on the Gasanguseynovs case after the organisation’s head was attacked and one of their cars set alight. He said they believed these were ‘related precisely’ to the Gasanguseynovs case. 

Chernovik helped me to find at least some justice’, Gasanguseynov said. ‘The journalists do what the government, the MPs, and law enforcement agencies are not doing; they help to find the truth and justice.’

Chernovik’s owner, Magdi Kamalov, told OC Media that they had previously received warnings from the security forces not to write about the Gasanguseynov brothers’ case but that at the time the editorial board did not advertise this. 

According to him, the recent arrest Gadzhiyev was a way of pressuring the newspaper.

Abdulmumin Gadzhiyev was detained on 14 June on suspicion of financing terrorism and participating in a terrorist organisation.

On 18 June, he was remanded into 2 months of pre-trial detention. According to investigators, 11 suspects, including Gadzhiyev, had been collecting money since 2013 ‘to spread the ideas of Islamic extremism and support the activities of the Islamic State’.

[Read more on OC Media: Editor and journalist from Daghestani newspaper Chernovik detained on terror charges]

On 11 July, Kamalov held a press conference in the Central House of Journalists in Moscow. He stated that Gadzhiyev was as the most suitable candidate for the authorities to falsify a criminal case against a journalist on terrorism charges in order to ‘portray the newspaper to the public and the authorities as a terrorism-financing media outlet’.

‘Gadzhiyev is a Salafi, he wears a beard, and religious issues are a very delicate matter, you can always find what to pick on’, said Kamalov.

He told OC Media that Chernovik ‘revealed the entire kitchen sink of the law enforcement agencies’ by covering the investigation of the murder of the Gasanguseynov brothers and the trials of the Ashikov brothers. 

[Read about the case against the Ashikov brothers: Daghestani police chief arrested for ‘attempted murder’ of colleague]

According to Kamalov, ‘certain police officers’ were trying to make their efforts to take ‘revenge’ on the newspaper seem like they were ‘ensuring the security of the state’.

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